After having conquered the inaugural stage of Andora twelve months ago and having won two more stages of the Internazionali d’Italia Series in the past years, Lars Forster (Scott-SRAM) could not be overlooked as favorite in the seasonal debut of Pineta Sperane XCO in San Zeno di Montagna, on Sunday March 6th.
The Swiss fully respected the predictions, solidly leading the race from the second lap (out of seven) to the finish on the new track on the Monte Baldo, that collected excellent feedbacks from all the competing athletes. Giving him a hard time, especially in the first few laps, was a brilliant Maxime Marotte (SantaCruz-FSA), the only one able to keep up with the Swiss until a puncture forced him to stop and lose a minute. Nevertheless, that did not prevent him from climbing back up in the ranks to finish in third place (+ 0.53).
“I love opening the season in Italy, and I have to say that competing at the Internazionali d’Italia Series is good for me, as it is already my fourth success,” commented Forster. “Here in San Zeno we have found a beautiful and challenging track, it’s a shame for Max’s puncture, as he was really strong today. It would have been a good battle.” Next up for the Swiss, who also wore the blue Internazionali d’Italia Series’ leader’s jersey, is a flight to South Africa to take part in the ABSA Cape Epic, teaming up with Nino Schurter.
Second on the podium in San Zeno was another SantaCruz-FSA Team rider, Luca Braidot (+ 0.46), clearly the strongest of the Italians in this Internazionali d’Italia Series seasonal debut, and finally supported by the good luck that he has been missing too often in Italian races.
“I am very happy with this result, I think the best I could, because keeping up with Forster today was really tough,” were Luca Braidot’s words. “In the Italian races I have often been affected by technical or physical issues, so I was very careful today in order to take home a valuable result. I wish to congratulate the organizers of this new race for designing a proper cross-country track, challenging and fun to ride: it will be a pleasure to come back here in the next years.”
Also noteworthy was the beautiful fourth place of Adrien Boichis (Trinity Racing Team), the reigning Junior World Champion, now in his early challenges in the new category, and the surprising fifth place of Brit Cameron Orr.